The Best Outlaw Jesse James Movie List

Last updated on March 27th, 2024 at 10:20 pm.

If you’re headed to Missouri, you’ll definitely hear the name Jesse James. An infamous outlaw of the Wild West, James robbed banks, trains, and stagecoaches throughout the US. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or a fan of Western cinema, exploring the captivating realm of Jesse James movies will take you on an unforgettable journey into the legend of this iconic figure.

His life featured high-stakes drama as well as a colorful and rotating cast of characters in his outlaw gang. It’s perfect film fodder, which is why countless movies have been made about his life, his crimes, and his eventual death.

Jesse James Movie List

9 Top Movies About Jesse James

From his daring escapades to his enigmatic persona, Jesse James has become an enduring figure in American folklore.

This article delves into the thrilling world of cinema as we embark on a journey to uncover the best cinematic portrayals of the notorious outlaw, examining the movies that have immortalized his legacy and enthralled generations of moviegoers.

Ready to ride shotgun through the annals of film history, exploring the top Jesse James movies that have left an indelible mark on Western cinema?

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Another big-budget Hollywood movie, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford stars Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck as Jesse James and Robert Ford, respectively.

Additional cast includes Sam Shepard as Frank James, Mary-Louise Parker playing Zee James, Jeremy Renner as Wood Hite and Sam Rockwell as Charley Ford in this big box office story of James’ notorious gang.

If you’re familiar with the basics of their real-life story, you’ll know that Bob Ford was a new recruit to the gang who wound up killing James in hopes of collecting reward money for it. He even reenacted the murder in saloons and dance halls afterward.

The Assassination follows true events but adds a deeper, almost meta level to the story, examining what it really means to become a fallen folk hero. It also adds more nuance to the betrayal of Ford. It’s a character study as much as a drama, and it’s been hailed as an excellent tribute to the Wild West even outside of its Jesse James lore.

Consider watching The Assassination if you’re looking for an introspective take on James’s life, including the relationship that eventually ended it.

American Outlaws (2001)

American Outlaws

With a star-studded cast that includes Colin Farrell, Scott Caan, Gabriel Macht, and Ali Larter, American Outlaws is one of the most popular Jesse James movies. It offers a big-budget film experience that will sweep you right into the rugged landscapes of the Wild West.

It does take a rather “Hollywood” approach to James’s life, which some viewers love and some viewers hate. On one hand, it’s been criticized for a lack of real history and for things like overblown action scenes and anachronistic dialogue. On the flip side, it’s a thoroughly entertaining romp that will delight anyone who lives for spurs, horses, gunfights, and bank robberies.

All things considered, as long as you don’t expect an accurate biography of Jesse James, American Outlaws can be a fun film and a great introduction to his legend.

Catch this movie on PopcornFlix, Prime or Crackle.

Frank and Jesse (1994)

Frank and Jesse movie poster

Originally aired on HBO, Frank and Jesse tells a serious, realistic, and R-rated version of the Jesse James mythos. It also revolves around Frank, his older brother, a pivotal presence in the real story who is often overlooked in fictional retellings. Rob Lowe plays Jesse while Bill Paxton plays Frank. Other members of the gang

This isn’t a film for the faint of heart. It doesn’t shy away from the grittier details of the gang’s exploits, and its central conflict revolves around the pursuit of the James’s by an antagonistic government agent who will stop at nothing to capture them.

If you aren’t afraid to plunge into the Wild West, then Frank and Jesse is the movie for you. It might have been made for TV, but it’s definitely an adult-oriented flick focused on the James brothers. Let the kiddos watch a different one. Catch the movie on Vudu, Tubi and Plex.

The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James (1986)

The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James

You’ll recognize a lot of faces in The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James. These include Kris Kristofferson as Jesse and Johnny Cash as Frank. Even Willie Nelson has a minor role! It’s basically a “who’s who” of country music stars turned actors in an ’80s Western.

The quality of the movie isn’t great, which is something that its participants have acknowledged over the years. However, it’s gained a bit of a cult following for its all-star cast and nostalgia factor. It’s also set primarily in Missouri, so if you’re headed there on your travels, you can get yourself excited for the upcoming famous outlaw sights.

Don’t expect a lot from The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James. Otherwise, have fun!

The Long Riders (1980)

The Long Riders

The Long Riders is the closest thing to a full-length autobiography of Jesse James that you can find. While other movies tend to focus on certain events or periods in his life, this one covers everything from his initial days after the Civil War to his eventual death at the hands of one of his men. It also touches on other well-known aspects of the Jesse James story, including the agents that dogged him and the heist in Minnesota that almost brought him down.

Another great thing about the movie is its vintage ’80s feeling. From the visuals to the soundtrack, you’ll be transported straight into a classic Wild West drama. You just can’t find Westerns like these anymore!

Watch The Long Riders on DIRECTV STREAM and Max.

The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972)

The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid

The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid is a classic Western that will make you long for horse riding under a burnt-orange sky. It’s also a fairly accurate look at the exploits of Jesse James, including the most infamous of his robberies: the holdup of a Minnesota bank on September 7, 1876.

Just like in real life, the holdup was a disaster; some historians say that it was the beginning of the end for James’s gang. It resulted in the deaths of several outlaws and civilians, and it prompted one of the largest manhunts in US history in the aftermath.

The highly dramatized events of The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, playing on Starz,make for an awesome movie, especially if you’re a fan of heist flicks in general. Think Ocean’s Eleven but with the flair of the Wild West. That’s the Jesse James way.

Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966)

Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter

As you might expect from the title, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter is an utterly ridiculous movie. It combines the classic Western with horror and science fiction, resulting in a campy genre mishmash set against a backdrop of ’60s-era filmmaking. To give you an idea of how unserious it is, it was originally a double feature that aired with a movie called Billy the Kid Versus Dracula.

Do you actually need to know the plot? If so, here it is: Frankenstein’s granddaughter is replacing people’s brains to make them her slaves. She grabs Jesse James’s sidekick for her experiments. Murders, seductions, zombies, and gunfights ensue.

You shouldn’t take a single minute of this movie seriously. If you’re just looking for a good time, however, it can be an excellent flick for movie night drinking games. Catch the movie on Tubi.

Alias Jesse James (1959)

Alias Jesse James

Did you know that Bob Hope was in a Jesse James movie? The actor and comedian made a real splash in a goofy slapstick Western called Alias Jesse James.

The premise of the movie is hilarious all by itself: A hapless life insurance agent accidentally sells a policy to James, compelling him to protect the outlaw so that his company won’t have to make a big payout after his death. Unknown to him, however, James plans to collect on his own life insurance policy… by killing the agent after making the rest of the world think he’s Jesse James.

With a side-splitting story and an amazing performance by one of the greats, Alias Jesse James is a timeless Western comedy. You should definitely add it to your shortlist of Jesse James movies.

 Watch Alias Jesse James on Hoopla, Tubi and PlutoTV.

Jesse James (1939)

Jesse James is one of the oldest surviving films about the outlaw. The very oldest date back to the early 1900s, but they’re hard to find today.

This version of Jesse James is available on Starz. You can kick back and enjoy every minute of its old-school storytelling and cinematography. Despite its age, it’s still quite absorbing; just don’t expect a lot of historical accuracy. Even back in the ’30s, it was known for taking liberties with the real Jesse James story.

Given the hugeness of his legacy, you might be surprised to learn that Jesse James was born on a farm in Kearney, Missouri. The town holds a festival for him every year, and the entire state celebrates its claim to fame with various tourist attractions dedicated to Jesse and the Wild West.

You can visit everything from the first bank that he ever robbed to the site of his eventual death. There are tons of things to do in Missouri focused on Jesse James, so if you’re a history buff traveling to the “Show-Me” State, be sure to make a bucket list!

More About Jesse James

If you are planning a trip to Missouri, you can visit the Jesse James Museum in Kearney, which is the farm and home where he grew up and less than fifteen minutes from the Jesse James Bank Museum where the first successful daylight, peacetime bank robbery in the United States took place.

We also have an article about the 11 Most Interesting Stops On The Jesse James Trail (3 Day Missouri Road Trip)

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Discover the world of Jesse James movies! From bank heists to gunfights, explore the 9 top films about the legendary outlaw with our Jesse James Movie list. A Wild West history dream list.

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